Recently in Slip and Fall Category

March 13, 2012

To No One's Surprise, Americans are Unlikely to Dine at Restaurants with a History of Slip and Falls

A recent study has highlighted the foreseeable fact that Americans are far less likely to dine in restaurants in which a known slip and fall accident has occurred. The study, conducted in an effort to show restaurant owners the heavy cost of slip and fall accidents, indicated that one in three Americans would be unlikely to dine at a restaurant where someone was injured in a slip and fall. Cintas corporation, the group behind the study, has long held that slip and fall accidents increase costs from litigation, damages and increased insurance premiums, but this study also highlights an additional loss from loss of revenue and business.

It seems an odd study because most people would be unaware that a slip and fall recently occurred at a restaurant unless the injuries were incredibly severe. Nevertheless, it does demonstrate the importance of properly caring for a property or appropriately warning visitors of dangers on the property. The study did reveal an astonishing fact, namely that more than one million patrons are injured in slip and fall accidents at American restaurants each year! Slip and fall accidents are often serious resulting in broken bones, head injuries and in some cases spinal injuries. This means a potentially large loss in damages and a huge increase in insurance premiums.

A property owner is responsible for injuries to visitors on their property caused by the owner's negligence or failure to warn. In other words, if the property is not properly maintained (i.e. broken railings, loose steps, holes and craters in the pavement, etc) and leads to a person's injury, then the owner will likely be responsible for the personal injury damages including but not limited to medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. A property owner may not be held responsible if he or she can show that they made reasonable efforts to warn visitors of the danger or if he or she was genuinely unaware that the danger existed.

Slip and fall accidents are complex cases and often require litigation and an experienced personal injury attorney. Litigation is the result of the defense arguing that the property was not defective or because the severity of the injuries results in a battle over appropriate settlement amounts. For whatever reason a case like this may end up in litigation, you need to hire an attorney who is experienced in trying complex slip and fall cases. My law office has this experience and is ready to fight for all of the money that you deserve.

Continue reading "To No One's Surprise, Americans are Unlikely to Dine at Restaurants with a History of Slip and Falls" »

November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone

Today marks the single most heavily trafficked day of the year. Highways will be jammed with family members making, sometimes long, treks to visit each other for the Holiday. It is a weekend in which our office receives a lot of calls for auto accidents. Don't let it detract from the Holiday but be careful out there because the sheer volume of cars increases the likelihood of car accidents, minor or serious.

If you live in a State other than Rhode Island or Massachusetts and are involved in a car crash or slip and fall while visiting family in these States, you should know that you will need to hire a local attorney licensed in Rhode Island and/or Massachusetts. The State in which the accident occurred holds the applicable law and is the State in which a lawsuit, if necessary, would need to be filed. You will not be able to return to your home State and hire a lawyer unless they are also licensed in Rhode Island or Massachusetts. My office has represented many long distance clients who happened to be injured while visiting Rhode Island or Massachusetts, and the process is not difficult. With email, fax, Skype and other applications, my office can represent you as if you lived 1 mile away rather than 1000.

Business aside, I want to wish everyone reading this post, including past and future clients, a happy and safe Holiday.

August 15, 2011

Subsequent Remedial Measures in Rhode Island

If you are involved in a serious personal injury claim that is on its way to trial in Rhode Island it is important to understand that Rhode Island is the only State in the Country that allows evidence of subsequent remedial measures to suggest negligence on the part of another. My non-attorney readers are probably lost, but I promise to explain why it is important. As a Rhode Island personal injury trial attorney, this rule of evidence gives us a tremendous tool that most of our sister States do not have.

First, the obvious question - what are subsequent remedial measures. These are steps taken by a person to remedy or fix a situation that previously led to injury. For example, if you slip and fall down a flight of stairs in your apartment building because of a broken step and the landowner repairs the step that night - he or she has taken subsequent remedial measures to insure that no one else is injured. The very fact, however, that the landowner needed to do a repair suggests that something was wrong that needed to be fixed. In Rhode Island, according to Rule of Evidence 407, you can use the evidence of the repair to impress upon the jury that something must have been wrong if the person took steps to correct the problem.


When, after an event, measures are taken which, if taken previously, would have made the event less likely to occur, evidence of the subsequent measures is admissible.

The Federal Rules of Evidence and the other 49 States do not allow this evidence to be used against a person to demonstrate negligence. Why? Every one else believes that it is better public policy that a person remedy a potentially harmful situation rather than leave it unchanged because he or she is afraid of the repair being used as evidence of negligence at trial. In other words, if a person knows that he may be admitting fault by making necessary repairs, he is less likely to do so and this leaves the possibility that more people may be injured. Therefore, in the Federal Courts and the other 49 States you can only use evidence of subsequent remedial measures to demonstrate ownership of the property and not as evidence of negligence.

This scenario comes up most frequently in Rhode Island slip and fall cases, i.e. a crack in the sidewalk, or a loose stair, or broken rail that causes one to fall and sustain personal injury. If you are aware that the owner took steps to fix the situation, try to obtain pictures of the changes because at your trial in Rhode Island it is admissible evidence.

Continue reading "Subsequent Remedial Measures in Rhode Island" »

April 18, 2011

The Serious Dangers of a Slip and Fall Accident

A slip and fall accident is always unexpected and very often serious. Some of the serious injuries that can occur from a slip and fall include: broken bones, scarring, head injuries, and even death. When such an accident occurs on the property of another person or business due to the negligent upkeep of the premises, the owner may be responsible for the damages you incur.

A slip and fall accident can occur almost anywhere. Common defects that can lead to a slip and fall accident are:

  • Wet floors;
  • Missing or uneven steps;
  • Broken or missing stairway rails;
  • Uneven carpet or floor mats;
  • Poorly lit hallways or stairwells
  • Spilled or dropped items that create a hazard.

In Rhode Island and Massachusetts, thanks in large part to our adverse winter weather, potholes, cracks in the pavement and sidewalks, and other surface defects can also lead to a fall.

What should you do if in a slip and fall accident?

If the accident occurs in a public establishment or business and you are able, report the accident to a manager or person of responsibility. Again, if able, take pictures with a cell phone or digital camera or ask a friend to do so. In addition, if any witnesses are at the scene, obtain names and phone numbers so that they can attest to how the accident occured.

It is also important to contact a personal injury attorney experienced with slip and fall claims so that you can establish liability and receive the compensation that you deserve. Like other personal injury claims, a victim of slip and fall is entitled to: past and future medical bills, past and future lost wages, and pain and suffering. My office has handled many slip and fall accidents and will aggressively handle your case to ensure that you receive everything that you deserve.

Continue reading "The Serious Dangers of a Slip and Fall Accident" »

December 7, 2010

New Snow and Ice Laws in Massachusetts for Slip and Falls

Massachusetts has long held a very pro-defendant stance when it came to slip and fall accidents due to snow and ice accumulation on sidewalks, driveways, stairs, etc. Under the prior law, a landlord was only liable for injuries caused by slip and fall if the accumulation of snow and ice was "unnatural" or "man-made". As you can imagine it was very difficult to prove that an accumulation of snow was "unnatural" and, therefore, it was next to impossible for those injured by slip and fall to collect for their injuries. This outdated law stems from an 1883 ruling and essentially encouraged landlords to neglect their property because they were immune from liability.

The law has been finally changed and landlords are now responsible for clearing natural and unnatural accumulations of snow from their property within a reasonable amount of time. In the ruling, Papadopoulos v. Target Corp, the Court held that the jury is now free to decide:

What snow and ice removal efforts are reasonable in light of the expense they impose on the landowner and the probability and seriousness of the foreseeable harm to others

The Court will now:

apply to hazards arising from snow and ice the same obligation that a property owner owes to lawful visitors as to all other hazards: a duty to 'act as a reasonable person under all of the circumstances including the likelihood of injury to others, the probable seriousness of such injuries, and the burden of avoiding the risk.'

This is an important ruling for anyone injured in a slip and fall caused by ice or snow accumulation in Massachusetts.

Continue reading "New Snow and Ice Laws in Massachusetts for Slip and Falls" »

October 3, 2010

Proving Liability in Slip and Fall Cases

Slip and fall accidents can be notoriously difficult to prove liability, especially if there are no eyewitnesses to the fall. In Rhode Island and Massachusetts all residential and commercial insurance policies will cover personal injury damages for a person hurt in a slip and fall, if the owner of the house or commercial property is responsible for the fall. There are three common ways to prove that the owner of a property is liable for your injury:


  • That the owner of the house or commercial property, or an employee of the owner, caused the spill or other defect that caused the fall;

  • That the owner or an employee of the owner, knew or should have known of the defect and did nothing to treat the problem;

  • That the owner should have known of the defect because a reasonable inspection of the property would have identified the problem.


Following a fall your first concern should be to obtain necessary medical care. If, and only if, you are able to look for witnesses, try to find someone who may have seen the fall and obtain a name and phone number. If you are in a place of business, try to find a manager and see that an incident report is made. Also, if you are carrying a digital camera or smartphone able to take pictures, take as many pictures of the scene as possible and, in particular, the defect that led to the slip and fall.

Also, it is important to remember that in Rhode Island, a fall which occurs on city and State property must be reported within sixty days or you will be barred from bringing the lawsuit. The notice must include specific information and be submitted in an exact fashion so it is imperative that you speak to a Rhode Island personal injury attorney for such cases.

Continue reading "Proving Liability in Slip and Fall Cases" »

July 1, 2010

How Much is My Personal Injury Case Worth?

It seems the most obvious and important question and one that I am asked in every personal injury case, namely, how much is my personal injury claim worth? Regardless if resulting from an auto accident, motorcycle accident, slip and fall, or medical malpractice, all clients are curious what their case is worth.

The only easy answer to that question is to say: Your case is worth the amount a jury of your peers says that it is worth. Unfortunately, juries are wildly unpredictable and can return with a shockingly high award or an embarrassingly low judgment. Furthermore, waiting for a jury verdict requires several years of waiting and a long and expensive litigation process.

That said, experienced personal injury attorneys such as myself, consider a number of variables in determining a fair settlement value of your case. Attorneys and insurance companies consider recent jury verdicts in the State, recent settlements in the State, along with other variables to determine a fair value for the injury suffered. Therefore, attorneys and insurance adjusters will assign a value to the neck or back injury, fractured arm, or concussion. For instance, if a jury recently awarded $160,000 to a man who broke his leg in a truck accident, this may be a starting point for negotiations if you suffer a similar broken leg in an auto accident.

What are the other variables to consider? Among other things:


  • the strength of the liability case

  • cost of litigation

  • amount available through insurance

  • nature and severity of the injury


Of course, you are also entitled to lost wages and medical bills, future medical bills and permanent disability, if applicable.

If the injury you sustained is soft tissue in nature (neck and back pain) then your settlement will depend largely on the length and severity of your disability and whether there is diagnostic evidence (i.e. an MRI report showing injury) to help substantiate the claim. An experienced personal injury attorney, will know how to negotiate with an insurance company to obtain the highest value possible.

This should be understood as a shorthand version of how the value of your personal injury claim is determined. There are literally hundreds of variables that have to be considered and only a skilled and experienced attorney can use all of these variables to obtain the highest amount possible in settlement. Furthermore, the negotiating skills of an attorney are important as well as the attorney's reputation for success.

The next time you ask your attorney: What is my case worth? do not be surprised if he or she is afraid to answer. It is because each personal injury case is so unique that it is hard to determine, especially early in the case, how much the injury is worth.

As a former insurance adjuster I have settled hundreds of personal injury cases of all levels of severity. I understand the full value of your case and how an insurance company will try to poke holes in your case to lower the final value. As a personal injury attorney, I have succeeded in obtaining excellent settlements for my clients often exceeding the amount they were hoping to receive.

Therefore, part of the answer to the question: How much is my case worth? depends on whether you hire the right attorney.

Continue reading "How Much is My Personal Injury Case Worth?" »

May 17, 2010

Be Aware of Rhode Island's 60 Day Notice For Accidents Caused by the Negligence of City or Town

Rhode Island law requires that an injury caused by the negligence of a Town or City be reported to that Town or City within sixty (60) days of the accident, or the case will be dismissed. This is a topic that has been on my mind for the past week or so because I have a new client who broke her ankle on a Providence sidewalk and because the Rhode Island Supreme Court just discussed the law in a recent ruling.

The plaintiff in the recent Rhode Island Supreme Court Decision, Susan McNulty, had her case dismissed by summary judgment because she did not adequately notify the City of Providence of her fall. Ms. McNulty spoke with the City clerk but never actually notified the City in writing, as per the statute, and the City moved for Summary Judgment. Summary judgment was granted meaning that her case is dead and buried. The Supreme Court affirmed the granting of summary judgment.

Rhode Island General Laws 45-15-9 and 45-15-10 state that a person injured on a highway, causeway or bridge, must give notice to the Town or City obliged to keep the road or bridge in a safe condition, of any injury within sixty days of occurrence. The notice MUST be in writing and signed by the injured party (or his or her attorney) and indicate the time, location (with specificity), and manner of the injury that occurred on public property. Because Ms. McNulty only notified the City of Providence by phone, she was in violation of the Statute and lost her case.

The general public is unaware that this statute even exists and may falsely believe that they have three (3) years to bring a suit against a town or city because that is the statute of limitations. Unfortunately, this is a costly mistake. There are additional provisions in the statute as well which require a formal demand before the filing of a lawsuit, etc.

Regardless of the nature of the accident, whether slip and fall or auto accident, you must notify the city or town if they are a potential defendant. This is the law throughout Rhode Island. Therefore, if you were injured on public property, it is imperative that you speak to an experienced personal injury attorney right away so that you do not lose your rights to compensation. This is a legal minefield and not an area of law which you want to travel alone.

Continue reading "Be Aware of Rhode Island's 60 Day Notice For Accidents Caused by the Negligence of City or Town" »

July 22, 2009

Slip and Fall: A Primer

I receive a lot of questions asking whether one has a valid case for slip and fall.  Often there is a fall on private property causing injury, but while these elements are essential, they are not enough.  A landowner is not always responsible for a flaw in the property that leads to a fall.  Occasionally weather, or another's mistake can cause a temporary flaw that the landowner may or may not be responsible for.

So, when might a landowner be responsible for a fall.  Here are the most common scenarios for a landowner to be legally responsible:

  • The owner of the property or his or her employee, caused the flaw in the surface by either damaging it or spilling something onto it, or otherwise causing something to be underfoot;

  • The owner of the property or his or her employee knew of the flaw on the property and did nothing to correct it;

  • The owner of the property or his or her employee should have known of the flaw in the property because a reasonable landowner would occasionally inspect his or her property and repair any known flaws.


In the first two scenarios, the landowner knows of the flaw either because he or she caused it or because he was told directly.  In the third scenario, often the most litigated, we have to ask if the "reasonable" landowner should have known of the flaw and repaired it.  Considerations include:

  • What is the nature of the object - size, shape, consistency;

  • Does the landlord have a routine inspection schedule? Is it sufficient?

  • How long has the object or flaw been present?  Would a routine inspection have identified it?;

  • Could a simple barrier or warning have prevented injury?;

  • Was there a legitimate reason for the object's presence?


So you see, a seemingly simple slip and fall can become a very fact intensive matter.  Report all falls immediately to someone of authority so that the condition is documented.  If the flaw is located in your apartment building, immediately notify the landlord or owner so that their knowledge is established.

This primer is an introduction only and does not cover all potential scenarios.  As you can see, a slip and fall can be very fact intensive and you need to speak with an attorney to determine your rights.  If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, contact our office for a free initial consultation.